Three Cheers for Cherry Pie Filling

Even better than canned. Yum!

Ever wanted to make your own pie filling, but not sure where to start? Well, never fear; your recipe is here!

I started making my own pie filling when I got tired of the sicky-sweet canned pie filling that was available in the stores. Cherry was especially problematic. I like tart cherries.

So, if you want sweet pie filling, follow the recipe below exactly. However, of you like your cherries tart, I suggest cutting the sugar to at least 3/4 of a cup, or even 1/2 a cup. If you are needing to cut down on your sugar intake, I suggest using 20 packets of stevia along with 1/4 cup of sugar. This is because stevia alone tends to have a strange taste, where if you add a small amount of sugar, it takes that away.

Here is the recipe:

1, 15 oz. can of tart cherries and juice

1 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. corn or tapioca starch

1/4 cup water

In a saucepan over medium heat combine cherries and sugar until sugar is dissolved. In a separate bowl make a slurry of the starch and water. This just means to stir them together until it looks like milk; no lumps, please!

Adding the slurry to the cherry mixture.

Add slurry to the hot cherry mixture and stir until combined. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and thickens slightly. Cool and use as you would canned pie filling.

Note: The pie filling will thicken as it cools.

Do You Have Time to Waste?

Lend a helping hand along the way.
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This morning I had an encounter with someone who was being very petty and mean. I thought to myself, “Why? Do you have time to waste on this earth being nasty?” I don’t want to waste a single moment of my life being mean, nasty, petty, or just plain awful! I prefer to spend my life spreading joy and God’s message.

Later, one of my children and I were discussing a friend of hers who views the world in a rigid way. He delights in pressing people’s buttons. Why? She has no idea, but will keep the friend from overdoing it by threatening to set him straight. Then he reforms. It leaves me to wonder what kind of delight he gets in making people feel uncomfortable or stupid? This is someone who I don’t see as a bad person; just immature in many ways.

Do you want to be this person?
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So, this leads me to ponder what we do with our lives. Do we spread goodness and kindness wherever we go, or do we delight in other people’s troubles and in creating them? You do not know how much time you have left to spread good. Don’t waste a single minute!

Share this book: “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy.
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The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse” is a book I came across at Child #4’s counselor’s office. It is beautifully written by Charlie Mackesy. This paraphrase from the book sums my post up perfectly. Be sure to read the whole book soon! It’s wonderful!

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” asks the mole.

“Kind,” the boy replies.

Abused, Abuser, Abuses

Early this morning I was preparing a speech that I plan to give at a meeting of abused women. I have told our story countless times; to doctor’s, therapists, nurses, friends, to my children’s schools. I have pondered the idea of writing down every detail, so that when doctor’s leave or therapists move on, I don’t have to repeat myself. Again.

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Curious? Well, here it is:

My ex-husband and I were introduced by mutual friends as a blind date.  We hit it off and dated for almost five years before getting married.  He adored me, especially my strength.  We argued at times, but what couple doesn’t?  Things sometimes got physical, but I was used to that, what with a father who had a notorious temper, at least within the walls of our home.  Rarely outside.  This was familiar to me.

I didn’t see it as a problem until we had our first child.  She was a difficult baby, who I now know had stomach issues.  At the time, all I knew was that she cried if you set her down.  I remember distinctly the ex screaming at her to “Shut up!”  I hated that he would scream at an innocent baby, but what was I to do? I had become the doormat.

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Many years later, after three more children and the loss of one in utero, I saw the truth.  The ex was not just physically and mentally abusing our daughters, but, while I was in the nursing home recovering from a broken kneecap and shattered pelvis from a car accident, he was also sexually assaulting them.  I wasn’t there to protect them.  No one else believed them.

After one terrible night of abuse and drinking (him, not me!) I had his AA sponsor get him out of the house and into rehab.  He actually called my mother to take him, rather than accepting the ride offered to him by the sponsor.  My mother took him, even though I warned her that he was dangerous.  She simply didn’t believe me.  “Oh, he would never hurt me,” was what she told me. Needless to say, we were all traumatized.  I reported the abuse to our doctor, who could see the defensive wounds on Child #1’s arm, and the ex wasn’t allowed anywhere near us.

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Then came the trauma of Child number 3’s abuse.  She was very mentally disturbed due to all the abuse the ex heaped on her.  She was only 12 when she first went to a mental hospital.  They traumatized her more.  She cut herself up with anything she could find; scissors, knives, glass in any form that she could smash to get shards.  It became a test of hiding places to keep cooking utensils where she couldn’t find them and I could still use them to cook.  I packed up all of our plates and glasses and bought plastic.  I cut her down from the closet rod where she was trying to hang herself.  In return she broke my finger, while swatting at me to let her hang and die.

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It took years to figure out the right combination of medications and therapy to help her.  It was a long and arduous journey.  I was told by health and human services that she would always be disabled.  They thought that I was abusing her, when in truth, she was abusing all of us!  And yet I loved her with all my heart.  Sending her to mental institutions was for her protection and also ours.  If only they had actually helped, rather than making her feel abandoned and worthless, not to mention more traumatized.

This is what led me to essential oils and hope for all of our futures. The changes I’ve noticed have been very reassuring, especially to a mom who had all but given up hope.

Peace and calming.
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So, now you know. I try to teach my kiddos that God sees all, and in doing so, the people that hurt us will have to answer to Him for their behavior. Some of us believe that. Some of us have lost our faith. But here’s the thing…God never loses faith in us, so I will keep on going, keep on praying. I will strive to make a better life for Child #3 and all of my children. I am a mom. It’s what I do.

Has Spring Sprung?

I saw my first red-winged blackbird of the year this morning!
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This morning, driving along a country road (we have a lot of those where I live!) I saw my first red-winged blackbird of the year! Then I saw another and another. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may know that this is the bird that my family looks for as the first sign of Spring. Yay! It has been a long Winter, but then, aren’t they always? We also entered into the season of Lent as of yesterday with Ash Wednesday. This season, the fasting and prayer-filled season before Easter, gets its name from the Latin word for “Spring.”

I have had it pointed out to me by my friendly neighborhood priest that Lent can be a season of renewal and joy. O.k., father! No offense, but this is not my favorite liturgical season! Fasting and abstaining from meat is not my idea of a good time. I think I’m looking at this all wrong, at least according to Father Hugh.

Through our prayer and fasting (which, by the way, Our Lady of Medjugorje has specifically asked us to do in this immediate time of peril!) we can draw closer to God. Is our sacrifice as great as His? Um, hello? Nowhere near, but that doesn’t mean it can’t help us to draw closer to Him. A little sacrifice vs. a closer relationship. Yup. I’ll take the closer relationship!

This is a Rosary. Notice there are five sets of ten beads (decades) for the Hail Mary’s and single beads in between for the Our Fathers and Glory Be’s.
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I especially felt called to share a Rosary with my family each evening. If you aren’t familiar with the Rosary, it is a set of prayer beads given to St. Dominic by Our Lady in an apparition in 1208. Roman Catholics around the world use the Rosary beads to pray the prayers of the Rosary, which include the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, among others in a certain order while meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary for each decade of it. The mysteries are in four sets. They are as follows:

The Mysteries of the Rosary

The Joyful Mysteries: The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Birth of Our Lord, The Presentation, The Finding of the Child in the Temple (Recited on Mondays and Saturdays.)

The Luminous Mysteries: The Baptism in the River Jordan, The Wedding at Cana, The Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Call to Conversion, The Transfiguration, The Last Supper and the Institution of the Eucharist (Recited on Thursdays.)

The Sorrowful Mysteries: The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pilar, The Crowning with Thorns, Jesus Carries the Cross, The Crucifixion (Recited on Tuesdays and Fridays.)

The Glorious Mysteries: The Resurrection, The Ascension, The Descent of the Holy Spirit Upon the Apostles at Pentecost, The Assumption, The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth (Recited on Wednesdays and Saturdays.)

Now, I know that all of you are not Catholic, or even Christian, and that’s fine! In fact, Our Lady has told us at Medjugorje that there is only one God. It is us who separate Him into different religions. Okey dokey! Yes, ma’am! Who am I to question the mother of God? Nope! Not me! This practice of saying a family Rosary has brought me a sense of peace.

My “Apple Blossom” amaryllis. Note how it is up by the ceiling. It sits on the piano, but has a three-foot stalk! It just kept growing! Happy Spring!

So, no matter how you are looking at the Spring season, and trust me, we will have snow yet (I believe they said Sunday night for us!) it is a rebirth. Who will you be?

Sigh…

Ah to be young and carefree!
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Yesterday, Child #2 and I were in a small grocery store. The checkout line was long and I had to ask several people if they were in line. We were all laughing and joking about the long lines and whose turn it was. I noticed a man in front of me who kept looking back at me and smiling at me a lot. He was definitely flirting, and while that’s a little unusual for me (for some reason the male species is slow to realize just how fabulous I am!) it is not unheard of either.

It wasn’t until I glanced at Child #2 and realized that her tank top had slipped down lower than she likes to wear it, though by no means obscene. He was checking her out! This man, who was about my age, was checking out my barely legal daughter! Can we all say this together – “Ewww!”

What would you do if this man leered at your daughter?

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Why? Is it just me? I mean, I realize that not all men are like this. I have a couple of very good friends who are not at all like that. Maybe it just sickens me so much because my ex-husband was that way. The trauma that he caused lives on in me and the kiddos.

I apologize to the good men out there. Maybe you could give your nasty counterparts a swift kick or something. Please, be gentlemen! We have to live in this world too and I would very much appreciate no leering, especially at the adults that are just barely no longer children!

Impasta Lasagna

Ready for the oven!

Tonight I made a cheater’s lasagna recipe. It’s easy, quick, and can be made vegetarian very easily.

Here’s what you need:

9″ x 13″ pan

Your favorite cooking spray

1 lb. of your favorite gluten free pasta, divided

30 oz. your favorite spaghetti sauce, divided

6 cups cottage cheese, divided

1 lb. extremely lean ground beef (leave this out if you’re going for vegetarian!)

4 cups mozzarella cheese

Spray your cooking spray in your pan, coating evenly. Spread half of the pasta and top with half of the cottage cheese.

Here is what this stage looks like.

Break up the beef into small pieces, if you’re using it, and place on top of the cottage cheese. Top with half of the spaghetti sauce. Start second layer with the rest of the pasta. Add the rest of the cottage cheese and spaghetti sauce. Top with the mozzarella cheese.

Bake in a 350° F oven for 50 – 60 minutes, (mine took 53 minutes!) or until cheese is melted and browned. Enjoy!

Yummmmmmmmm!

I do have one note for you! This is not a cutable lasagna, but rather a scoopable one. I served it in bowls and scooped it from the pan with a big spoon. It’s still delicious, though.

Will Anything Help?

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Back a couple of years ago, when my world with Child #3 was imploding, I was told by an HHS worker that nothing was going to change for them. This child would always be handicapped and basically, that I better get over having any hope for anything else. I was devastated.

The thing was, and still is, that I know this child better than anyone else. I carried them inside of me; waited while it took forever for my doctor to decide they could be born (at 39 1/2 weeks for twins!) and watched and taught them from then on. I know them pretty well. So to tell me that the child that grew up in front of my eyes will never be “whole” or “normal” was unbelievable to me. I did, in fact, not believe it.

They had been a very, very smart child, way outpacing their twin at schoolwork and in other ways too. How could this all be over? Trauma. How one parent can _______ with a child so much as to change the entire trajectory of their life. How did I expect Child #3 to manage when their father mistreated them?

After much therapy and searching, I have come upon something that helps. Essential Oils. I know, I know. I never thought I’d be one of those people who touted the helpfulness of essential oils. That was before I met Lydia, who guided me through the basics of what could possibly help Child #3.

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As you know, I would do almost anything for my kiddos. They are the only blessings that came out of my abusive marriage. I love them with my whole heart! So, if essential oils could offer Child #3 some relief, then I was willing to give it a go. Anything to help.

I found Lydia through Child #4’s counselor. She had known Lydia for many years and recommended that I talk to her, since I was at a dead end with Child #3 and Child #4 had been contemplating suicide as well. I was lost. Not to mention, I cannot have a job outside of the home, since I have to be there for Child #3 whenever they need me. It is not a pretty scene if I am not and generally ends in cutting, hurting, and suicide attempts. Mmmhmm…I needed help! Young Living offered not just a job of helping people to heal their lives, but also healing for Child #3, 4, 2, and 1, not to mention me.

So, here I am. We have been diffusing “Peace and Calming” oil in our diffuser in the nighttime, which has something to do with healing trauma. I don’t know exactly how it works, but I will tell you that I see a difference. Now, I AM NOT A DOCTOR, so please do not assume that any of this is to be taken in such a vein. If you want to see for yourself, please comment below and let me know how to contact you and I will do so.

Other oils we have tried so far are “Stress Away” which has a lovely, spicy scent that usually has me so in vacation mood that I fall asleep! We’ve also tried Lavender for helping with sleep. Again, I’m passed out cold, whether from the diffuser or exhaustion, I can’t say. I like the lemon oil for a burst of energy; it smells like when we zest lemons for baking. Yum! Also, the “Thieves” oil smells good and when I use it with lotion, it helps my skin.

What’s your favorite essential oil?
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I did put some “Valor” oil in a key chain holder for Child #3 when they went to high school. I was told that this was the mixture of oils that they put on Roman soldiers before battle. They argued that they weren’t going into battle, and I pointed out that for Child #3, high school is a battle.

It’s a wonderful journey we’ve been on with the oils. I certainly don’t know everything there is to know, but if it helps, I’d do just about anything for my kids. So far, so good!

Not So Leftover

Soooo yummy!

We had a bowl leftover mashed potatoes from a dinner a couple nights back. What to do? Our favorite way to use up leftover mashed potatoes is the following recipe:

Garlic-Cheese Potato Patties

4 cups leftover mashed potatoes

1 Tbsp. granulated onion

1 Tbsp. granulated garlic

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 cup cheese powder

1 cup colby-jack shredded cheese

In a bowl mix mashed potatoes, onion, garlic, and pepper. Mix thoroughly with your impeccably clean hands. Add in the cheese powder and mix well. Last, add the shredded cheese and mix one final time.

Awww…I love you guys!

In a frying pan, melt 1 – 2 Tbsp. of butter to coat the pan. Form your potato mixture into small hamburger-shaped patties and place as many as you can comfortably fit in your pan. Cook until golden on the first side (about 5 minutes on low-medium hear) and flip to finish cooking on second side. Serve immediately. Enjoy!